It is always with eager anticipation that these books come through from Auckland University Press. Such is the standard of poetry in this country, and particularly by emerging artists and writers, that these consistently check the pulse of the industry and consistently leave the reader in the knowledge that the lustrous legacy of poetry is safe in the hands of the next generation.
In this latest edition of AUP New Poets now in its 9th generation, three talented poets show their wares to the world - Sarah Lawrence, harold coutts, and Arielle Walker.
First up in the collection is Lawrence whose collection Clockwatching both inspires and astounds the reader with the dextrous use of language, the interesting use of form, and the development of thematic links throughout with some subtle nods to some of the greats past. Curating more of a narrative style in their writing, Lawrence explores some deep themes of connection, loss, ache and growth across the poems. Definitely one to watch as their career develops further.
Stand out among this section has to be the Love Sonnets with their wistfully lyrical language choices and resonant content.
coutts (uncapitalisation intentional) picks up the baton and delivers longing as the second act to this poetic collection. The first poem my gender masterfully explores what it is to identify with gender and connects with the constructs set down by John Milton. In the final stanza a line ‘consider me always just slipping out the door’ sings with its coherence and vibrancy. Often confronting in their approach to subjects, coutts shows depth and control over the material and draws out from the reader a self reflective tone.
Finally, Arielle Walker’s river poems completes the trilogy of collections with a wonderful selection that uses form in interesting and enticing ways. The poem here are all the ways the story is the same gives a inward looking exploration of narration and narrative as a construct.
The story always reminds us that there are
on the shore
where they first meet
In addition, there are footnotes to some aspects of the poem that enliven the experience of the poem itself. Readers will enjoy the introspection that comes from this selection.
Overall, this collection is another triumph for the publishing house and reinforces all that is good and new and innovative in the world of poetry in Aotearoa.
Reviewer: Chris Reed
Auckland University Press